Big Brother

Sawadee Khrap

Well, it final. I’m a “Big Brother”, not by that name but as they say here, same-same. I am helping a young man here in Chiang Mai to go to school. I won’t mention his name for his privacy, but he and his family are unable to send him to school for the final classes to graduate and I have volunteered to sponsor him.

He lives with his Aunt and Uncle and he comes from the Southern part of Thailand. It’s a familiar sad story, he is a young Kathoey and from a poor family where going to work is more important for the family survival than his schooling – so he had to drop out and work at his father’s trade – fishing. But being Kathoey – commonly called a LadyBoy – he is not up to doing that muscular work. So he was sent to live with his Aunt & Uncle.

I was introduced to him by a friend of mine and got to listen to his story and dreams. Thailand on the surface is very tolerant toward gays and the LadyBoys but deeper down at the village level there is not that level of acceptance – especially if the boy is the oldest child and expected to help support the family as soon as he is able. In this case being different caused problems.

I came to Thailand wanting to help someone have some of the opportunities I had enjoyed. I had hoped my relationship with Tas would give me that opportunity – apparently not. So I started searching for another I could assist. Schooling was paramount in my life – I know I didn’t really try as hard as I should have and that did make it difficult to land those good jobs or positions – but I had some Great Mentors during my career. Thanks to them I was able to fulfill my dreams. Now I have a chance to help another fulfill theirs. Also I am very aware of what discrimination can do when one is considered different.

The last years I was in San Francisco I had several LadyBoy friends and on many occasions we talked about how hard their life had been – all were Thai and all experienced the loneliness of being different. It’s hard enough to build self respect when you are considered different from the others and even more pronounced when because of lack of education the only minor jobs are available or denied entirely. That leads many, and I see many, in the local sex trade. Hopefully I can have a part – even if it’s only for one child – that I can help see that some of the obstacles are removed from his path so that he can reach a full satisfying way of life. Education is the first step, and here I can help.

From time to time I will post on his progress. I do wish him the best, but I know he’ll make it.


2 thoughts on “Big Brother”

  1. Well, this truly was an uplifting story and perfect for the season!

    I have had the opportunity to help numerous young men get a head start in life and as hard as it might be we have to remember that one day they will move up and move on. Which comes real easy when you are just keypunching letters to form words…in real life you get so attached and so involved that it is very painful when they move on…

    But overtime what must be will be and we adjust. No matter what hurt and pain you have suffered when by chance in the future you meet them again…the joy returns!

    Good luck and keep up the good work!

    Thanks Tao – I’ve tried to help several in the States before and was deeply rewarded each time – and i agree, we should always help but not control.

  2. Wow, I do hope this time you are able to fulfill your quest to put someone on their path to a better life. Not that Tas wont’ but we may not know the outcome there, but I do wish him the best. Looking forward to knowing the progress and hopfully (plans are coming together) to be there next spring sometime.

    I wish him all happiness too, sorry it had to end. But even here only a chance can be given, it’s up to the person to do what they can with any help. Success should be a rating in each ones eyes and therefore he may have been as successful as intended. God blesses all – Thank God for that or I wouldn’t stand a chance. So my success is just being able to help. Really looking forward to meeting you in person – spring will be here soon.

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